Guitar wood and sound quality. Choose the right kind of guitar for acoustic players.

Greg Bennett Regency guitar

Laminate back and sides increases the playability of an acoustic guitar by reducing reflected vibration that leeches some of the mechanical energy from the soundboard, reducing sound. Shown: Greg Bennett Regency 12 with Nato laminate back and sides.

Q.
I’ve just come to an understanding that an Ovangkol guitar is very similar to Rosewood. Could this be a very close equal to the Brazilian Rosewood Guitars? Would anybody notice the difference?

 

 

Epiphone AJ-18S-LH with solid spruce top

Flexible wood with long, equal ring spacing amplify the sound as it transfers from the strings through the bridge. Shown: Epiphone AJ-18S LH with solid spruce top, rosewood bridge..

A.
Like violins, guitars are a mechanically-driven vibration amplifiers. The top is the soundboard, and the tension of the strings to the bridge drives the energy from the vibrating strings into the soundboard. It is the soundboard that compresses air inside the body cavity, and the sides and back’s job is to not vibrate, but to contain the sound pressure.

Fender Kingman guitar

Custom and limited edition guitars sometimes feature rarer woods for the back and sides. Shown: Fender “Elvis Presley Clambake” guitar with Wildwood (tinted beech wood) rarity owned by me.

Thus, while flexibility is good for the top wood, you want rigidity for the sides and back.
While a denser or thicker wood would bring the resonance down towards the bass end, the effect is very slight. The construction techniques of the back and sides affect the sound far more than the material.

Epiphone mahogany back

Mahogany or other hard, dense wood, is preferred for back and sides. Shown: Epiphone Vintage Himmingbird, Mahagony laminate.

We observe that the light vibrant woods are great for the top, while heavy, denser woods serve best as back and top. The hardest woods, ebony, maple, walnut or rosewood, is best for the non-vibrating parts, such as the fingerboard and the bridge.

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